Bomb scares force evacuation at two US Universities
Houston: Bomb scares at two US universities led to thousands of students and staff being ordered off campus on Friday, though no explosive devices were found after the mass evacuations. University of Texas and North Dakota State University received phoned-in bomb threats following which mass evacuations were ordered at the two Universities.
Scared students, anxious parents and officials were taken by surprise when the two universities received phoned-in bomb threats.
Thousands of students and faculty were asked to stay off campus or get away as soon as possible.
A man claiming to be with al-Qaeda called The University of Texas in Austin at 8:35 am (local time). He claimed that he had placed bombs all over the 50,000-student Austin campus, University of Texas spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said. He claimed the bombs would go off in 90 minutes and all buildings were evacuated at 9:50 am (local time) as a precaution, Weldon said.
North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani said 20,000 people were evacuated from his school’s main and downtown campuses in Fargo after the school received a bomb threat this morning.
However, no bombs were found on either campus by early afternoon but it was not clear whether the threats were related. The deadline passed without any incident, and the Texas University later issued advisories saying all buildings have been cleared and were reopening by noon.
Classes were cancelled for the remainder of the day, but other university activities were to resume by 5 pm (local time). Officials did not immediately release details about the North Dakota threat and its evacuation remained in place by early afternoon.
In Texas, sirens wailed on campus and cellphones pinged with text messages when the initial alert when out. Students said there was more confusion than panic as they exited the sprawling campus in what one described as an “orderly but tense” manner.
Students said they were directed off campus by the university staff. “One of them said to me ‘get off this campus as soon as possible, without saying why,” said Zareen, an 18-year-old freshman from Houston, Texas.
Police blocked off roads heading into campus as lines of cars sat in gridlock trying to get out. Abhay Divakaruni, another freshman from Sugarland, Texas, said he was waiting to get into class when word quickly began spreading among students to leave immediately.
“We could’nt believe when we received the campus alerts and then switched to CNN to hear the rest of the information,” he said.
With rain falling, students stood under awnings and overhangs and inundated nearby off-campus restaurants and coffee shops as they waited to find out when classes would resume. Another student said she received the university text message after she reached the university and felt trapped and scared. Immediately after that she heard the sirens and rushed to the closest exit.
Another student who had late class was finding it as a hoax and very disturbing for students who expect such things least despite the situation around the world. “You don’t believe it till you see it”, the student said.